NewsLinks is a collection of recent news items relating primarily to the California judicial branch. NewsLinks does not verify nor endorse the accuracy or fairness of the news items, and the views expressed in opinions, editorials, and commentaries are those of the writers only.

Bill to strengthen regulations on pretrial assessment heads to governor

September 13, 2019 | Daily Journal
(Subscription required) SB 36 introduces two rules for pretrial assessment services, which represent a growing industry in California as challenges to the cash bail system continue to mount across the state. The first rule requires pretrial assessment agencies to validate their services every three years, starting in 2021. The second makes it mandatory for agencies to publish data about their outcomes and potential biases.

Panel rejects justice’s move to strike accuser’s testimony

September 13, 2019 | Daily Journal
(Subscription required) A panel of Commission on Judicial Performance special masters Thursday denied Justice Jeffrey Johnson's motion to strike the testimony of a former extern who said Johnson exposed his penis to her, forcibly kissed her and engaged in a campaign of verbal and sexual harassment against her.

Judicial Profile: Second District Court of Appeal Justice Dorothy Kim

September 13, 2019 | Daily Journal
(Subscription required) “I am very confident that my colleagues and I keep a very open mind during oral arguments and often times I use oral argument as an opportunity to have questions answered,” Kim said. “Unlike in trial court — where it’s very free-flowing in terms of question and answer — this is our one shot to ask questions after we have read the briefs and reviewed all the record.”

Commentary: Tax vote issue gets cloudier

September 12, 2019 | CALmatters
The state Supreme Court stirred up a legal hornet’s nest two years ago when it suggested — but didn’t explicitly declare — that a two-thirds vote requirement for specific local tax increases might not apply to measures placed on the ballot via initiative petition.

Justice makes last testimony in defense, says accuser lied

September 12, 2019 | Daily Journal
(Subscription required) Justice Jeffrey Johnson was recalled as the last witness in his Commission on Judicial Performance hearing Wednesday and testified a former extern’s account of him exposing himself to her in his chambers was false.

Courthouse project priority lowered

September 11, 2019 | Mountain Democrat
A new draft report by the state Court Facilities Advisory Committee has El Dorado County slipping from the “top tier” of courthouse systems in need of funding for renovation or replacement — but local officials are trying not to worry about the new numbers.

California Senate passes AB5 gig-work bill, which could turn contractors into employees

September 11, 2019 | San Francisco Chronicle
The California Senate on Tuesday passed gig-work legislation that could transform the state’s employment landscape, turning many independent contractors into employees. The vote was 29-11, along party lines.

Legislature passes bills on criminal justice, debt collection, workplace harassment

September 11, 2019 | Daily Journal
(Subscription required) The Assembly approved a bill that requires validation of pretrial assessment tools. SB 36 was authored by Sen. Robert Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys. Hertzberg also wrote SB 10, last year’s law that would phase out cash bail pending a 2020 referendum. The new bill is in part an attempt to understand which pretrial assessment tools work and to maintain momentum on changing pretrial release practices if SB 10 goes down.

June Baby Bar exam results slightly lower than expected

September 11, 2019 | Daily Journal
(Subscription required) Success on the Baby Bar was highest among students in law offices and judges chambers programs, who had a pass rate of 36.8%. Scoring lowest were students registered in programs that are California-accredited but not approved by the ABA, who had a pass rate of 2.7%. The Baby Bar does not focus only on law. It tests students on general knowledge about specific topics.

Judicial Profile: Napa County Judge Cynthia Smith

September 11, 2019 | Daily Journal
(Subscription required) “She is super sharp and picks up on areas of the law she really didn’t have any experience on before she got appointed,” said Jeffrey E. Hammond, a Napa-based criminal defense attorney who works as the conflict resolution counsel assigned to the family law and juvenile courts.

Bill to Help Scrub Records of Low-Level Offenders Hits Newsom's Desk

September 10, 2019 | Courthouse News Service
Under Assembly bill 1076, the California Department of Justice must create a database of all people eligible for record expungement, doing away with what advocates call the costly and burdensome requirement to petition a court to seal and dismiss a conviction.

OC Proposes New Policy to Destroy Public Records Before 2 Years

September 10, 2019 | Voice of Orange County
“The County’s proposed policy – like the prior version the court ordered it to cease enforcing – seems to allow for immediate destruction of a wide variety of public records,” said Brendan Hamme, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) who successfully fought the county’s existing destruction policy in court.

Arrest rates in California drop nearly 20% after reforms, study finds

September 09, 2019 | San Francisco Chronicle
Arrest rates in California have declined sharply over the past four decades, coinciding with an overall decline in crime around the state and country. But two recent progressive reforms to the state’s criminal justice system are also significantly driving down arrests around California, a new study released Monday found.
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